Sleep is one of the most important activities people engage in each day. We all know that we spend—or should spend—one-third of our lives in bed. That time in bed has an even bigger impact on our health and well-being than diet and exercise. The research is in and sleep really matters; science has proven that when people sleep well, they are happier, healthier, live longer, learn faster, retain more information and perform better at work and at life in general.
If these were the proven benefits of a new “wonder drug” people would spend hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars a month on that drug without hesitation. So why is our entire domestic mattress industry valued at less than 25% of the market cap of Starbucks, whose whole business is basically built around the idea that you need a drug to power you through the day because you probably didn’t sleep that well the night before? Given the importance of a good night’s sleep and the role a mattress plays, our industry should be two to three times the size it is today.
Consumers come to us to get a better night’s sleep. One of the biggest challenges we face in growing the total mattress industry size to where it deserves to be is that we are only giving people 50% of what they need to achieve that. The best mattress in the world won’t help you if your sleep hygiene is awful; a great mattress is only half the formula to a great night’s sleep.
The reality is, most Americans have poor sleep hygiene, and the prevalence of electronic devices in bedrooms is only making it worse. More and more, we are sending customers home with a great mattress that doesn’t significantly improve their sleep experience. This leads to a frustrated customer who will rate their experience with the mattress, and the retailer they bought it from, extremely poorly.
So how do we deliver the other half of the equation to our customers and truly help them sleep better? Sleep-tracking devices have been tried in power bases and as giveaways at retail as a solution to this problem, but the reality is that this is just another device, another piece of equipment—like a mattress—that requires people to use it correctly for it to really be beneficial. The solution to the “too much equipment not enough education” problem isn’t to provide more equipment, but to provide more education. And it must be more than the 20–30 minutes you have with a customer during the mattress-buying process. Nuggets of wisdom on sleep hygiene occasionally given during the selling process are simply not enough to really matter, and they won’t be delivered in a way that is really going to stick with the consumer anyway.
If we want to grow as an industry and truly realize our market potential, we need to develop real solutions beyond building good mattresses and foundations. We need to provide 100% of the solution, not just half. Sleep is too important, and too many Americans suffer the ill effects of sleep deprivation for us to do anything less. Delivering a true sleep solution results in a customer thrilled with their product experience, which in turn will grow our market share to where it should be.